A simple way to boost your TV’s sound
Best soundbars Buying Guide: Welcome to 7Review’s round-up of the best soundbars you can buy in 2020.
Everyone loves a flatscreen TV, but does yours sound, er, a little flat? Have you thought about adding a soundbar? The very best soundbars can pack impressive audio into a package small enough to sit in front of your TV.
Before you buy, you should bear in mind the dimensions of your TV and just how big your new soundbar needs to be. You don’t want it to be dwarfed by the screen, but then again, it could look strange partnering a huge bar with a tiny TV. Track down the specs and compare the bar’s width with that of your TV. Also, check the height – if you need to place the soundbar in front of your TV, you don’t want it obstructing the picture.
Next, you need to turn your attention to features. Many modern soundbars boast wireless subwoofers, Bluetooth streaming, 4K-friendly HDMI inputs for a games console or 4K Blu-ray player, ARC-enabled HDMI outputs and even support Dolby Atmos audio with upfring speakers. Have a think about the content you’ll be viewing and the sources you’ll be plugging in.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best soundbars for a range of different budgets. All of them are simple to install and will allow you to up your audio game without needing lots of speakers and cables that will just clutter up your living room.
Small, adaptable and great sounding, this is Sonos’s best soundbar yet.
Sound formats: Dolby Digital 5.1 | Connectivity: 1 x HDMI ARC, 1 x optical digital, Wi-Fi, Ethernet | Voice control: Amazon Alexa | Dimensions: 7 x 65 x 10cm (HxWxD)
- Impressive three-dimensional sound
- Surprising bass weight and depth
- Streaming and multi-room smarts
- A little sibilance at high volumes
- Only one HDMI input
Judging on a sound-per-pound basis, the five-star Sonos Beam is currently the best soundbar you can buy. It comes with a few additions to its spec sheet, compared to the Sonos Playbar and Playbase, including an HDMI connection and voice control assistance from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant with Apple Siri to follow.
This is an affordable soundbar that could transform your listening experience. It’s small, light and will fit in front of most TVs. There are sleek touch controls on the top, as well as HDMI and Ethernet ports to the rear. You can wall-mount the Beam, although the optional bracket is pricey.
Sound quality is superb. Inside, four full-range drivers, one tweeter, three passive radiators and five class-D amplifiers help to drive sound around your room for a more immersive, cinematic experience.
The width, depth and three-dimensionality of the sound smashes expectations. Do you need to spend another £ for the Playbar? Probably not. This should meet most people’s needs perfectly.
Read the full review: Sonos Beam
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This Sony easily mixes it with the best soundbars at the money.
Sound format: Dolby Digtial, Dolby Atmos | Connectivity: 3 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out | Streaming: Bluetooth | Hi-res audio: 96k/24-bit PCM | Subwoofer: Yes | Dimensions: soundbar 8 x 118 x 14.5cm (HxWxD), subwoofer 40 x 25 x 43cm (HxWxD)
- Excellent integration
- Weighty bass
- Impressive Dolby Atmos effect
- Remote could be better designed
Accomplished Dolby Atmos soundbars are few and far between but the Sony HT-ST5000 happen to be one of them. It makes film soundtracks so immersive you’ll think you’re in the movie. The HT-ST5000 is fantastic – pairing a real sense of height (thanks to its upfiring drivers) with sophisticated sound quality.
The feature count on this Sony soundbar is impressive too, with three HDMI inputs, USB, Bluetooth and high-res audio support. You can also stream music to it wirelessly, via wi-fi or the Bluetooth 4.1 connection. Spotify Connect is also built in, as is Google Chromecast for Tidal or Google Play Music users. It even has a dedicated ‘Music Service’ button on the remote, which can automatically resume Spotify playback if you’ve been out and about, listening on your smartphone.
The design of the remote is a bit fussy, but that’s really our only gripe. If you’ve been looking for a hassle-free way to get Dolby Atmos into your home, and your budget won’t stretch to the Sennheiser Ambeo, this is a fantastic option.
Read the full review: Sony HT-ST5000
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Big, bold and beautiful – just how a soundbar should sound.
Sound formats: Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos, DTS, DTS:X | Connectivity: 2 x HDMI inputs, 1 x optical digital, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Voice control: No | Subwoofer: Yes | Dimensions: 8 x 123 x 14cm (HxWxD)
- Large soundfield
- Effective Atmos delivery
- Solid and clear presentation
- Lacks dynamic punch
- Bass a bit loose
- Size won’t suit all
Like the Sony HT-ST5000 above, this Samsung soundbar is a great advert for Dolby Atmos soundbars. Given you need room to accommodate the bar, a wireless subwoofer and two wireless rear speaker modules, it’s actually more of a system, but you do get proper 7.1.4 Atmos sound. You also get a good spread of features and connectivity options, including three, 4K-compatible HDMI sockets, plus Bluetooth and wi-fi for music streaming.
The Samsung’s biggest asset is its big, bold room-filling sound. The system makes a huge impression, flinging sounds and surround effects far and wide. There’s plenty of weight behind explosions and voices sound solid too. Most of the thumping low-end comes courtesy of the bar’s external subwoofer, while separate rear speaker modules ramp up the atmospheric effects.
Sony’s HT-ST5000 does have the dynamic edge which is why we’ve positioned it higher, but this bass-heavy Samsung is still a viable alternative for those looking for a big and premium soundbar.
Read the full review: Samsung HW-N950